Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Outdoor adventures at Katie's Restaurant

When you work from home, it's real easy to become something of a recluse. You wake up, scratch yourself, roll out of bed, grab some coffee as you stumble through the kitchen, and then plant your ever-widening backside at your desk. After that point you rarely rise from your chair, aside from bathroom and replenishment breaks, until rather late at night when you stumble back into the bedroom and pass out.

Things that other people do everyday fall by the wayside because they are no longer required in your routine...things like getting dressed, brushing your hair and, as nasty as it sounds, taking a shower. What do I need to take a shower for? I have spent several days in the exact same, lazy-day outfit -- something an old co-worker of mine dubbed her "housecoat" -- and relished every minute I didn't have to "dress my best" for a thankless job requiring me to be "on the same page" and "brain dump" on demand at some ungodly hour in the morning.

But...I must admit that after a while, I desperately need to get out of the frigging house.

Last week I did just that. I showered, donned clean clothes and left the house with John to have lunch at Katie's Restaurant in Mid City. We decided it would be a good idea to sit outside and soak up some Vitamin D and breathe fresh air for a while. Our server quickly took our order and we sipped iced tea and tried to figure out what the graffiti on the side of the house facing us used to say before it was painted over.

We had ordered an appetizer of "Jenny's Garlic-Feta Fries," but our entrees arrived first. A bit confused, I queried our waiter.

"I was wondering, did you remember my order of Feta Fries?"
"Oh yeah! Didn't I tell you? We ran out."
"No. No you didn't tell me. If you had, I wouldn't be asking about it."
"I could have sworn I came and told you we ran out."
"Nope. You didn't."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. I'm positive."
"Well, can I get something else then...perhaps the Eggplant Sticks?"
"Sure, no problem. I'll be right back."

Then, out of the blue, he took off running down the block.

We didn't know if or when he'd be back, so we just started eating our entrees and hoped for the best. John chose Katherine's Cajun Cuban with smoked cochon de lait, grilled ham, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles pressed in between two thick slices of French bread. The cochon de lait was moist and the sandwich tasted pretty good, but it had been brushed in garlicky butter on the outside that made for messy handling.

I just wasn't in the mood for anything fried or greasy, so I ordered an "oven roasted" turkey sandwich fully dressed on French. From the name, I was hoping that this was a real turkey sandwich, you know, thick slices of juicy turkey from a house-cooked bird, but it wasn't like that at all. It was like a plain, old turkey sandwich from a grocery store deli...I'm guessing Boars Head? It wasn't a total loss, the potato salad I had on the side was almost perfect.

Anyhow, as we were munching away, our server pops up behind us magically (I guess he made the block?) and placed the eggplant fries on our table. They turned out to be just so, so. Sprinkled with canned Parmesan and kind of bitter, the only part about the eggplant I really enjoyed was the marinara dipping sauce. *Soapbox* Don't ever underestimate the value of "sweating" sliced eggplant before cooking! 

As we boxed up half our sandwiches to take home, the waiter popped up behind us once again and asked whether we'd like dessert. After being offered the usual bread pudding (is it mandatory that every restaurant in New Orleans serve bread pudding?), we opted for a slice of Thin Mint Doberge (dough-bash) Cake made by that fabulous baking beauty, Debbie Does Doberge. It tasted like a big, many-layered, creamy, decadent slice of an Andes Mint minus the metallic green wrapper.

After lunch, we went back home, I changed back into my housecoat and plopped down in front of the computer once again. Work, work, work...

Katie's Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 17, 2012

House of the week: Freret House on Amelia Street

Surfing through the lengthy list of houses on the market that I wish (oh how I wish!) could be mine, I found this breathtaking Southern Belle and simply had to share.

On the corner of Carondelet and Amelia Streets, just a mere block from St. Charles Avenue i.e. parade route, lies this gorgeous, two-story, Corinthian-columned house all done up in white like a blushing bride. The house was built in 1868 by architect James Freret, the first locally-born architect who achieved national distinction. Although this flower seems small among the finest of Freret's accomplishments, it's not exactly a cottage...

With 7200 square feet of living space, this house boasts seven bedrooms, eight bathrooms, 14-foot ceilings, a three-car garage and a guest house. This stunner is adorned with wide pine floors, gorgeous ceiling medallions, pocket doors, floor-to-ceiling windows -- with 14-foot high ceilings, can you see it? -- a lush courtyard, fountains, a porch swing...oh my!

If you were standing here now you'd hear me heave a great, big sigh. This dream house is listed at a mere $1,600,000.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”  -C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Screaming for New Orleans Ice Cream: Red Velvet Cake

Although it might be considered sacrilege to say down here in the "Deep South," I'm just not a fan of red velvet cake.  I've tasted a ton of different incarnations, including my own, and the flavors or texture never really appealed to me. Well, except for the cream cheese frosting, let's be honest here. I could eat cream cheese frosting till the cows came home (oh will they ever come home?).

So when I opened up the pint of New Orleans Ice Cream Co's Red Velvet Cake, I was all ready to hate it. Thankfully, I was wrong...

Their oh-so-decadent Creole Cream Cheese Ice Cream had been transformed with thick, chewy chunks of red velvet cake and a thin ribbon of chocolate swirl running throughout. I had no difficulties gobbling this pint down all by myself. Maybe I should try Red Velvet Cake again?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Herbsaint: A blossoming birthday ritual

This past Saturday, the power was still out and John and I sat sweating, dreading another evening of darkness and sticky hands of Gin Rummy. I was irritable, stinky and facing a dinner of tuna-in-a-can when I suddenly realized I'd completely missed out on a birthday celebration. The week previous, when my birthday actually occurred, I was overloaded with work and struggling to meet far too many deadlines and had put off my birthday dinner to be enjoyed "sometime soon." Well, it was about damn time...

Before my phone battery petered out, I found out on Facebook that Herbsaint was open, so we made reservations, took long, cold showers and caught a cab downtown to finally celebrate my 41st birthday in a sweet, air-conditioned dining room on St. Charles Avenue where the hostess kindly agreed to charge our phones while we dined.

Eating at Herbsaint is always a pleasure, but it was hard not to take joy in the little things on this particular occasion...things like tall, glistening glasses of ice water that were refilled as soon as they were emptied, the sounds of laughter and conversation from tables around us and a cool, stone floor that I simply couldn't resist touching with my bare feet. So, I slipped off my sandals at what?!

Narrowing down the menu to only a few choices was tough, but we muddled through. John started out with a cool, mouthwatering Watermelon Gazpacho with a creamy, sweet hill of Louisiana jumbo lump crab piled in the center and garnished with a sprig of fresh mint. I chose the Seared Shrimp with summer squash and chili oil and we both lovingly soaked up the remaining sauce on my plate with thick slices of warm ciabatta. Take that Chicken of the Sea!

For my entree I chose to replenish my iron with a Top Cut Ribeye seasoned with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil. My tender and juicy, sliced steak was served with a large pile of their addictive French fries and pimenton aioli for dipping. Yes, I dipped some steak bites in there as well! John ordered Curried Jumbo Shrimp with creamed corn. The spicy, earthy flavor of the shrimp went perfectly with the sweet creamed corn for such a delicious combination, let me tell you, I was a wee bit jealous.

We finished off this most perfect dinner with an utterly decadent dessert created by one of my favorite pastry chefs, Rhonda Ruckman. This time, the magic consisted of a delicate Apple Galette topped with caramelized frozen custard and drizzled with a thick caramel sauce. We had died and gone to heaven.

This was the second birthday I'd celebrated at Herbsaint and I believe it is fast becoming a tradition. Do you see me complaining? Well, to be perfectly honest, I did complain a bit that night, but it was only because I had going home.

Herbsaint Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

House of the week: Priorities...

As you all must know, last week we experienced another hurricane. Isaac came through and with high winds, managed to do some serious damage to homes and businesses, caused flooding in a few parishes and generally wreaked havoc all over Florida and Louisiana.

Comparatively, we got off easy. The only loss we suffered was that of power for approximately five days and four, very long nights. Unfortunately, we planned poorly for Isaac's arrival, but from this lesson, I have learned a few things:
  1. Buy and/or make LOTS of ice. Aside from putting the rocks in your drinks, ice will turn your fridge into an old-fashioned ice box that will last a surprisingly long time.
  2. For those readers out there like me who cannot get to sleep at night without putting away a few chapters, a battery operated lamp of some sort is practically mandatory. Candles do NOT cut it.
  3. Buy board games. After John beat me an embarrassing number of times at Gin Rummy and Poker, I would have paid good money for a little Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit.
  4. Own a barbecue. I would have loved to hang outside and do some grilling, even on my front porch, rather than being subjected to the sweaty heat-fest we endured while using our gas stove. For that matter, try to own a gas stove as well. We would have been completely screwed without it.
What does all this have to do with buying a house? Well, when I finally buy my dream house in New Orleans, it will definitely be accoutred with something like this...